Rules for Cooperative Poker #JanJam17

This is a sort of poker variant / group solitaire which can be played either competitively or collaboratively.

These rules were thrashed out at the Oxford January Games Jam. I think it is original - but there are literally thousands of card games, so it is hard to tell!

As I've mentioned before, I love collaborative games. I'd much rather help my friends than beat them.

This game is deliberately designed to be simple. I get confused with some card games where everyone has a different role, and there are dozens of actions in each turn.

This card game has difficulty settings! You can add or remove certain rules depending on the cognitive ability of your group.

Quick Game

Each player lays a card down in a 5x5 grid. Once a winning poker hand is placed down, that player may discard those cards.


To work as a team and remove all the cards from play.


The game scales from 1 to 52 players.


A standard deck of playing cards.

Rules (Co-operative)

Divide the cards equally between all players.

Cards are laid face down in front of the players. They draw cards unseen from the top of their hand.

Player 1 is the player who wishes to go first.

Player 1 places a card face up on the table. For example:


The next Player places a card face up on the table, either to the left, right, above or below the existing card.


Play continues with players placing cards face up in a grid.


When a player places a card which completes a sequence, they may remove all those cards from the grid and place them in the discard pile.


The game ends when players have no cards in their hands.


A reminder, it is the player who places the card down who decides whether or not to remove the cards from the grid.

Sequences must involve cards which are touching each other.

Valid sequences are similar to those of poker. With two exceptions - straights and flushes can be more than 5 cards long.

The order of this list is not important. Removing cards from play is all that counts.

  • Two of a kind (A pair with the same value. Example Q♦ Q♠)
  • Two Pair (Example A♦ A♠ 7♠ 7♦)
  • Three of a kind (Three cards of the same value. Example 9♦ 9♣ 9♥)
  • Full house (A pair and a three. Example A♦ A♠ 7♠ 7♣ 7♦)
  • Four of a kind (Four cards of the same value. Example 8♦ 8♠ 8♣ 8♥)
  • Flush (All of the same suit. Example A♦ 3♦ 9♦ 6♦ J♦)
  • Straight (All consecutive values. Example A♦ 2♠ 3♠ 4♣ 5♦)

Flushes and Straights

As in traditional poker, a Flush or a Straight has a minimum of 5 cards.

Unlike traditional poker, there is no maximum of the number of cards in your sequence.

Straights may start or end with an Ace. They may not have an Ace in the middle.

For example, this is an invalid sequence: J♥ Q♣ K♥ A♣ 2♥


A sequence is a set of cards which a next to each other.

That is, an unbroken chain in a horizontal or vertical direction.

This is one of the areas where you set the difficulty.

Difficulty Settings

You will need to agree on these optional rules before game play starts. Or after, if you like arguments.

Cards aren't laid in a grid - but only horizontally.

For an extra challenge, cards can only be laid in one direction - for example always to the left of the existing cards.

Sequence can be diagonal.

Sequences can be multi-directional.

For example, this Straight has vertical and horizontal components.


Competitive Play

Play proceeds as above.

When a player completes a sequence, they place the cards onto their personal discard pile.

Once no more sequences can be removed, the remaining cards are added to the discard pile of the player with the smallest pile.

The winner is the person with the largest discard pile.

This encourages players to engage in tactics!

Gameplay report

It's pretty good! Playing the horizontal variant is a good introduction to the sorts of tactics which can be used.

The one thing lacking is the idea of a common enemy for the team to fight. There's a nice element of "The Weakest Link" - whereby players can choose to "bank" the score by removing cards from the table.

So, have a play - and let me know how you get on.

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2 thoughts on “Rules for Cooperative Poker #JanJam17”

  1. Dmitriy says:

    Hi! Thank you for interesting suggestion! I would love to try it!

    Could you please tell how many cards players drawing from their hands? It's just 1? So all choices that you have it where to place card and discard or not the sequences? Can player skip a turn?

    1. Terence Eden says:

      I don't know 🙂 Play it a couple of different ways and tell us what worked best!


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